Two air service businessmen were indicted on federal charges of secretly recording Michael Jackson two years ago as he flew to Santa Barbara with his attorney to surrender in a child-molestation investigation.
Jeffrey Borer and Arvel Jett Reeves used two digital camcorders and remote microphones to record "a professional entertainer and his attorney" as the pair traveled on a private jet from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara in November 2003, according to a three-count indictment filed Wednesday.
The two were charged with conspiracy, endeavoring to intercept oral communication and witness tampering in an alleged scheme between Nov. 19, 2003 and Nov. 21, 2003.
The entertainer they recorded was Michael Jackson, said a source familiar with the case who asked not to be identified because Jackson is not cited by name in the indictment.
Attorney Mark Geragos, who had represented Jackson at the time, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment. A phone call to Jackson's spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, also was not returned.
Borer was the owner of XtraJet, which operated a Gulfstream jet that carried Jackson. Reeves was the owner of Executive Aviation Logistics, which provided maintenance service for XtraJet's aircraft fleet.
The allegations that Jackson was taped aboard a flight on Nov. 20, 2003, were widely reported at the time. In a lawsuit filed against XtraJet days after the flight, Geragos claimed the charter company covertly installed two cameras in the cabin of the plane.
Xtrajet officials gave the tape to the FBI soon after it was found, and a judge ordered the company not to make or distribute copies. Xtrajet's attorney said at the time that company officials didn't know who was responsible for making the tape.
Geragos complained at the time that the action violated attorney-client privilege in the child-molestation case. In June, a jury acquitted Jackson of all charges.
According to the indictment, Reeves purchased the video and audio equipment from three electronics stores in San Bernardino County and, with another suspect, secretly installed the equipment in a concealed part of the airplane's cabin. The indictment did not identify the other suspect, listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.
The microphones were allegedly installed between passenger seat cushions.
Borer instructed Reeves to obtain and install the equipment and later contacted news companies and offered to sell the recordings, the indictment said.
In April 2004, according to the indictment, Reeves told a suspect to lie to FBI agents by saying that the video equipment was installed in an attempt to catch someone who had been stealing alcohol from the aircraft.